Despite what Nicholas Sparks might tell us, love is almost never as simple—or as boring—as nice guy meets sweet girl. These 6 works explore love that defies culture, convention, and even time itself. What unites them all is a shared commitment to true romance in all its many forms. Now that’s what I call relationship goals!
- Like No Other by Una LaMarche
Jaxon and Devorah are across-the-street neighbors, but their backgrounds could not be more different: Jaxon is a nerdy African-American boy, and Devorah is the dutiful daughter of a strict Hasidic family. When they’re finally brought together by chance, they decide to risk it all for young love. Can they rise above tradition and prejudice to preserve their special something?
- The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Henry DeTamble is a natural-born time traveler. Sounds awesome right? Not so much—Henry cannot control his ability in any way, finding himself repeatedly marooned in unknown times and places where he must struggle to survive. Solace comes in the form of Clare, a woman who finds her life tangled up with Henry’s in surprising ways. They fight to find a way to make their romance work across years and painful separations.
- The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Don Tillman, a brilliant geneticist who struggles with social interaction, decides one day to find himself a wife, searching with dossiers and strict criteria for evaluating potential partners. Somehow, Rosie Jarman, a sharp-tongued bartender, crosses his path and makes a deal to aid him in his quest. Though she is nothing like the ideal wife of his initial conception, Don finds himself developing a bond with Rosie that he can’t quite shake.
- Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
It’s the end of the world as we know it, and Lenny Abramov is not feeling fine. A plain-looking book lover in a near-future America that condemns literacy and worships good looks, the middle-aged Lenny must scrounge for meaning wherever he can find it. Luckily for him, it soon appears in the form of Eunice Park, a beautiful college grad whose intense practicality matches only her deep bitterness aimed at her rapidly collapsing society. Against all odds, Lenny and Eunice must try to be human as society grows increasingly inhumane.
- The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore
A work of nonfiction, this wild love story rivals anything dreamed about by even the greatest novelists. William Moulton Marston, the creator of Wonder Woman, was a staunch feminist who challenged sexual mores throughout his life, experimenting with orgies and BDSM way back in the 1920’s. Perhaps most notable, though, was his polyamorous relationship with his wife, Sadie Holloway, and girlfriend Olive Byrne. The three shared a home together for years, raising children and welcoming occasional lovers into their lives while Marston meandered his way to comic book glory.
- Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
R, a teen boy-turned-Sinatra-loving zombie, never expected to fall in love with Julie, the girl he takes captive—but that is exactly what happens when R discovers he that his feelings for Julie defy the usual hunger for flesh. Julie shakes R out of his undead apathy, inspiring him to slowly leave his flesh-eating ways behind and just maybe be a real person again. Though the premise may come off as gimmicky, this novel gets to the center of what it means to love and live in a world that may or may not be past redemption.
Featured image courtesy of Collider